Death Valley n00b Ride n00b Report

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Jenn, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

    Joined:
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    After my little warm-up ride in February, I was advised of a space in the RV for the Adobe contingent heading down to Death Valley. I got permission for time off (which coincided with my first day as an FTE, concidentally) and packed with assistance of my trusty majordomo:

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    And loaded up the DR to head to San Jose on a very rainy Wednesday:

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    Please pay special attention to the license plate - that's the last you will see it looking like that!
    #1
  2. NSFW

    NSFW ktm's "the tourist"

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    :lurk
    #2
  3. duckman44

    duckman44 Been here awhile

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    in!:d
    #3
  4. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

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    Of course, we got to San Jose to meet Seth and load up the trailer and there was no rain - all blue skies and tweeting birds!

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    We got on the road, Seth drove like a pro all the way to Bakersfield - playing awesome music - while Felix worked away on his laptop. We stopped at Cycle Gear for ... well, gear! Then when we got near Tehachapi Pass, we saw an awesome rainbow:

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    Yep, motorcycles still attached!

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    We arrived safely and set up camp, walked around and socialized a bit and then tucked in Seth with his special sleeping bag before heading out to star gaze

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    In the morning, we planned to head over the South Pass to Saline Warm Springs -- my special request and one of my favorite places. It felt nice and temperate in camp so I pulled out my jacket liner and was raring to go.

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    So was Seth!
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    OK - just one adjustment:
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    Then we headed off, a trio, for Saline Valley Rd. A larger group of ADVers caught up with us, and we leap frogged them along the road.

    A good thing, too - when we got to the first lookout before the Hunter Mountain turn off, I was quite chilly. Fortunately, a very nice man with green-hazel eyes had an extra shirt that fit me perfectly and gave me the extra layer of warmth I needed.

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    And then everyone pulled ahead of me so I could putter along like an old lady (not having been on dirt much in the last 4 years) and admire wildflowers. I've never been to the desert for spring wildflower season and was very excited to see this display (between 2000-4000' all over the park, I later realized)

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    Felix & Seth waited for me patiently - watching the other riders tear off in a cloud of dust

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    We made it to the turn off for Saline Warm Springs -- the way in was a lot sandier than I had ever seen with these moguls, like skiing, but for dirt bikes (it WAS much more fun on the way out!)

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    After hiding our firearms in the desert, we headed in for the upper springs, aka "Palm Springs" to leave the crowd at the lower springs.

    Shower is just on the other side of those palm trees - go get clean before you soak!

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    Wizard pool
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    Hot springs, mountains and dirt bikes - what else could you want (other than chocolate and a massage, but I got that as well!)
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    #4
  5. bmwgo

    bmwgo I love moto's

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    :lurk
    #5
  6. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

    Joined:
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    Seth and Felix take a lesson in how to efficiently and effectively clean a hot tub from this guy (who was impressed that the tub full of motorcyclists was clean -- either that or he was afraid to kick us out and empty the water!)

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    "wait, I have to get some pictures!"

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    Felix prepares to take a soak with his motorcycle:
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    Enough shenanigans - let's head back to the campground!

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    Lock down the GoPro!
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    Father Crowley Overlook
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    Frank took our pictures, so we took his
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    Our campsite was full of Adobe people when we got back!
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    And tents & motorcycles!
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    #6
  7. TBickell

    TBickell Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Somers,MT......Anthem, AZ
    Good pictures and ride report. I am heading to Death Valley this week with 2 others. Tried to find the Saline springs on the map but could not. Is it right near South Pass? We are going to be on 800's and 1200's and one rider is very new to off roadiing on a bigger bike. Do you think that road is difficult? Any other good spots for us to look at? We will do the Titus canyon look and probably head to Telescope peak.
    #7
  8. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

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    Overall, Thursday was probably one of the best days for riding for me out of all three -- it was a good warm-up, and the best part was a very long rest at the warm springs before going back out to Saline Valley Rd and the South Pass.

    The ride back to camp was definitely easier -- in fact, I really enjoyed the mogul-hopping part of the road to the warm springs on the way out and wanted to turn around and do that part again! I definitely felt more confident in the big sand pit at the turn by the farm/lake turnoff, and was a lot stronger going up the pass as well.

    Rest is good!

    After returning to camp on Thursday evening, I took my motorcycle over to Lior's camp to leave for him to change out the tires on Friday morning (I have not ever successfully changed a rear tire -- it's really difficult and time consuming).
    #8
  9. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

    Joined:
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    Friday morning, Moishe and Lior pointed a bunch of things that needed attention: front & rear brake pads (just changed rear brake pads in July, only 9K miles? come on!), a completely missing rear spoke ("Only professional riders break out spokes like that!") and my rear chain guide/guard was completely cracked through but not interfering with anything mechanically.

    Oh, yeah -- and I broke my license plate! I only lost the last character (the 1) so now I am just "CLARKO."

    Returning to camp, everyone was getting ready:
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    A larger group of Adobe folks, about 9, planned to go ride together on Friday -- and we all started to gather at the gas station across the street. That's when Felix remembered: his throttle had been sticking in the "on" position. He headed over to Lior's to have it checked out and after a little bit, flagged the group.

    I stayed to wait with my friend while everyone else (now 7) started off and promised to wait 20 minutes at Stovepipe Wells.

    Lior worked his magic on Felix's bike and swapped out the return cable so that he could still ride! Yay!

    The two of us headed down the road and just past the pass -- we came upon Joe on the side of the road with Rachel & Dustin. His KTM had switched off so he had, sadly, coasted down the pass. Seth and the rest of the group continued on to Stovepipe Wells.

    We waited for them a few minutes and then headed to Stovepipe Wells for gas all together (now 5). We hoped to catch up with Seth and the others at some point, so headed down the road.

    Felix zipped ahead of me and less than 2 minutes out of Stovepipe Wells - I noticed something VERY strange: dangling off the right side of his motorcycle (from my perspective) was -- WTF? His REAR BRAKE?!?

    HEY! FELIX! HOLD UP BUDDY! I blew the horn, I dropped into 4th and sped up to catch him. He thought we were playing and passed up another motorcyclist to keep his lead -- meanwhile, we were leaving Joe, Rachel & Dustin behind us.

    Finally, I got up next to him, honked and pointed DOWN -- after last year, I think he has learned that is not a sign for "Wow, your bike is really awesome!" but "Houston, we have a problem!" (ie, your bag on the rear rack is on fire or, in this case - your rear brake is flying in the breeze).

    I dropped back as he slowed to pull over -- and I hoped he would realize he had no rear brake and stop safely (which, of course, he did).

    The other three caught up to us - Rachel whipped out her amazing tool kit and the three guys started looking for bolts to cannibalize for the rear brake caliper.

    Crisis averted! We got back on the road and headed to Furnace Creek.

    What the hell, might as well get more gas since we're here. OK, it was really Social Media Time.

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    Finally, after a our cascade of mechanicals - we discussed our plan and decided to have our lunch at Badwater and got back on the road. Our morning had already been nearly 4 hours at this point.

    Here we are BELOW SEA LEVEL and not even wet!

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    Contrary to what we were informed - there was no shade structure or picnic table at Badwater.

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    We ended up sitting on the pavement of a ramp on the north side in some shade, which worked out pretty well and gave us a nice view.

    In all my trips to Death Valley, I've never been to Badwater Basin -- so we took some pictures.

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    I just knew this sign really was begging for something else, like being used as a seat:

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    So everyone else had to get in on the fun:

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    C'mon Rachel, don't you wanna?
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    Group photo (Jenn, Felix, Joe, Rachel & Dustin)
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    Badwater wasn't too crowded though there were a few visitors of interest, including a young couple from Connecticut touring Death Valley barefoot, in swimsuits -- because 75F is really hot to them.

    And there was also this Austrian man who was touring the world in this totally bad ass truck/camper thing:

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    #9
  10. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

    Joined:
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    Saline warm springs is actually on Google maps -- so find it there and then you can see where it is on the paper map. Probably listed as "Palm springs" and "lower spring" or something.

    Check out the Death Valley Road conditions discussion here on ADV Rider.
    #10
  11. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

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    Dang! I just realized the problem I am having sorting my photos in with other photos (from my iPhone or other people on the trip) is that I didn't change back the date/time/timezone after my trip to the UK last August/September - DOH!!!

    Here's the album on Flickr
    #11
  12. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

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    By the time we got to the turn off for West Side Rd from our lunch at Badwater, it was already around 1pm.

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    We headed down the dirt road -- lots of land spread out around us.

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    We got to the warm springs resort with optional water crossing - Joe and Felix opted "in"

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    After a snack & drink break at the warm springs by the abandoned pool - we packed up to head toward Geologist's Cabin - there's Rachel with a big smile and no helmet (and Joe in the background).

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    And no helmets here
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    More gorgeous mountains and flowers, motorcycle glamor shots:
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    ok on to the cabin, for realsies!

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    Another break at the Geologist's Cabin with a vista of the striped butte and gorgeous valley:
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    At this point, I was starting to feel kind of tired -- it had already been a long day, and I was feeling thirsty and hungry every time we stopped. And we still had not gone over Mengel Pass to Goler Wash!

    So far, I was doing ok - just slow and everyone was patient and waited for me as I puttered and gawped at the gorgeous scenery. Hadn't dropped my motorcycle yet...

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    As soon as we left the cabin, we ended up on hard rock with lots of rocks on it -- and I went down. Not just down -- but down at slow speeds and could not extract foot from under motorcycle. So, I cut the engine and honked the horn -- Rachel & Joe were behind me and just dropped their bikes to come help me up from under mine (yay team!).

    OK. If I was feeling a bit tired - this was the evidence. Now I was at the point where I was totally second guessing and losing confidence. Everything on me felt ok after that fall, so I got up and kept going.

    Until we got to Mengel Pass -- which Rachel didn't realize was Mengel Pass and powered up it like a fucking champ til she hit a rock and went over. Joe & Dustin ran up to help her out -- and she went down a second time, roosting them (Felix got this on GoPro even!) and then BAM! She was outta there!

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    What a woman! I decided someone else would have to get my DR up -- Joe went up and made it look like a piece of cake, Felix dropped once and then BAM! Dustin did alright -- and I took pictures!

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    • Joe - killing it in one go (video)
    • Dustin - taking my DR up to the first big obstacle (video)
    • Felix - "it's easier the 2nd time" taking my DR up the rest (video)
    It looks much easier in video, I think, than when you are standing at the bottom of a boulder strewing piece of road.


    Meanwhile, I was thinking "I wish I had brought climbing shoes" because there were a LOT of nice bouldering opportunities at Mengel Pass...





    Oh yeah - and please note my license plate...
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    As Seth says, "If it falls off, it stays falled off!"

    Going down through Goler Wash was ok - I did a few things that surprised me. The DR moving around to places I didn't expect freaks me out (like I think I'm going forward but then I am going WHOO! to the LEFT! then WHOO! back to the Right!).

    Once we got down into the canyon, there were so many gorgeous rocks to look at -- and I was pretty tired. I had to stop and pause a few times to enjoy the scenery and recompose my molecules.

    I was thinking of Seth, Felix & Joe's advice -- "Why are you sitting down? Stand up!" and "Give it more gas" and all that when I realized -- they are all far ahead of me again, so I better catch up.

    Of course, I did this in the worst area -- ankle deep pea gravel on a right hand turn and BAM! I lowsided to the right (again) but tried to step off to stop it -- succeeding only in the bike landing directly on my heel while my foot was at a 90 degree angle to the ground with the toe straight down. Oh. Ouch. I could FEEL that.

    I was able to pull my foot out and propped it up while I recomposed my molecules and then heard Joe approaching. Thinking "He better not think I am unconscious or dead" - I put my arms on the ground to push up to sit and - holy cow! What did I do in my left shoulder? Ow.

    Speaking as someone who has had so many sprains that there is nothing left to sprain in the left ankle, and took nearly 9 months to recover from a bad lateral right ankle sprain 2 years ago -- and rebuilt ACL in both knees... I get a little protective and listen to my body when it says "tired."

    After my knight in orange & black rescued me (again!) -- I really was puttering and enjoying the rocks. And the fauna - meet Jack and his harem:

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    I want to go back and climb this one - it is much bigger than it looks in the picture:
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    We got out of Goler wash well after 6 and headed to Ballarat, arriving around 7 -- but realized we needed to get back so folks could get the group meal (except me, 'coz I'm vegan).

    Back at camp, I can't even remember what I ate - I showered, and was tired -- and went to sleep early. I should have iced the ankle but -- zzzzzzzzzzzzz -- not even midnight burrito microwaving could wake me up!
    #12
  13. PinkPillion

    PinkPillion Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
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    Northeastern California
    Great report so far JENN. We are going to that exact area in one week, so I am taking notes...
    :lurk
    #13
  14. Harry94025

    Harry94025 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2010
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    306
    Hi Jenn,

    Enjoying your report! Did you have your smaller countershaft sprocket installed for the dirt? Would have come in handy on the tight sections...

    Harry
    #14
  15. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

    Joined:
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    Thanks Pink!

    Harry - I brought the 14t but didn't put it in - wish I had!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #15
  16. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

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    Saturday Morning - everyone was working on breakfast and plans, and I was feeling my ankle was a bit sore so wanted to take it easy. Curtis agreed -- he was very new to riding in dirt and on a very big motorcycle, so we decided to pair up (plus he's a nurse, so I figured I'd be safe if I hurt myself again!).

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    When our friend Felix heard that, he gallantly offered to be our tour guide and make our Saturday a trio.

    Our plan was to go to Chloride Cliffs and then to Beatty for lunch, followed by Rhyolite en route to Titus Canyon. We stopped for lunch in Stovepipe Wells and then headed off to the turn off for Chloride Cliffs.

    I honestly did not get more than 3-4 miles when I realized that my ankle was impeding my confidence and my riding. It was sore and I was avoiding standing on the pegs because the pressure increased the pain that I was feeling.

    So, I turned back and headed to Beatty -- got gas, found some acetaminophen (NSAIDs don't work on me) and found a spot at the Sourdough Saloon where the bartender took my order for a pizza and fixed me up with a bag of ice for my ankle. Just as I was finishing my order, Felix & Curtis arrived -- so I got beers for them as well.

    And then, this happened:

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    Social media time!

    After an hour with ice, a beer and pizza -- the acetaminophen kicked in and my ankle felt much better. We bid adieu to the Sourdough Saloon, stopping only for cash on our way to Rhyolite

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    Rhyolite is a weird little place - a "ghost town" - with a bit of an arts gallery and some large outdoor installations.

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    There is plenty to see for about 15-20 minutes and even a nice sofa for a nap:

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    Curtis, sacrificing himself to the Nazg├╗l

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    Enough shenanigans! Time to say good bye to the nice gallery curator

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    #16
  17. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

    Joined:
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    Other than a little post-prandial nap that my body was craving, I was feeling pretty good. The road to Titus canyon was pretty mellow and then... I felt something cold and wet on my backside. Platypus leak? Oh no - it's still going.

    Screeching to a halt...
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    Dammit. My klean kanteen bottle jiggled OPEN - I swear that was screwed down tight and now I was wearing grape electrolyte drink all over my butt. How did that happen? Damned physics. NB: even if you think it is screwed in, check it.

    OK, back to our originally scheduled program.

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    I have never seen SO many different colors of soil in one place!

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    At the pass:

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    Note to self: don't stand DOWNHILL from Felix in photos (seriously, he's only 4" taller than me, not 10"!)

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    Felix's sandwich got tenderized. "It's ripe!!"
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    Curtis & Felix got way ahead of me -- here's Curtis exiting Titus Canyon
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    Meanwhile, I was scouting more potential climbing locales:

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    Finally, I exit the canyon to the warm welcome of my patient friends:

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    And now we celebrate an awesome day!
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    I even got a little climbing in (with MX boots, can't go very far):
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    On our way back, the wind really picked up -- we went through some swirling sand, and then cooled our heels at Stovepipe Wells. Probably a good thing because on our way back -- out of nowhere was a phalanx of about 15 cars. At the top of the pass, we saw emergency vehicles and the road was open so I didn't slow to gawk and flew down the hill back to camp. We were going to miss the raffle!

    I got to the campground and waited -- Curtis arrived about 6 minutes after me, and then after 20 minutes, I turned around to look for Felix. I only had to go a couple miles before I found him, it turns out he had lost his GoPro camera.

    Curtis won a sleeping bag but my extra tickets did not net me a prize. Very sad Jenn face.

    Sunday morning, Fergus and Aaron packed up for their continued journey to the Grand Canyon, and Curtis packed up to head back to the Bay Area on 2 wheels.

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    Sorry to report that Felix did not find his GoPro but it was somewhere around HERE:
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    So, if you stopped there and found a little GoPro camera....

    One last stop at Father Crowley overlook:

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    Felix is way better at being photographed than I am:
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    I just die laughing when I get instructions for "1000 yard stare" or whatever - here's me, the big dork:
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    All loaded up and getting on the road!
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    Seth powered through all the way to San Jose -- he's an excellent driver and just goes and goes, safely and without fuss, unflappable by the antics of lesser drivers doing stupid stunts on the road. :clap

    We finally were off the trailer and unpacked by 9:30p -- after a quick stop for some Indian food before getting on the freeway, Felix and I both headed north.

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    This is how much stuff I did not wear! I'll get my packing list up and notate it for "next time." :)


    BIG THANKS to Seth for welcoming me to join his RV on this trip, he's a man with a system and he's efficient and organized. Felix -- a great friend in any case -- was lots of fun on this trip. I appreciated all the advice from Seth & Felix, the camaraderie of the whole Adobe crew. Lior & Moishe for being awesome! Thanks to Joel for organizing everything.

    Also - thanks to whomever started the whisper campaign that almost everyone said "OH, I heard you are a really good rider" - thanks, that was really fun and supportive. :)
    #17
  18. NSFW

    NSFW ktm's "the tourist"

    Joined:
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    great job jenn.
    though i was there, i still enjoy your rr.

    :thumb

    see you again next year, maybe by then you put on 50k on the bike.
    #18
  19. Jenn

    Jenn praise seitan!

    Joined:
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    Is that 50K more or 15K more? I'm already at 35K now!


    ANKLE UPDATE: I was very good all last week, did not go running, climbing or bicycling. Only went swimming using the pull buoy. Ankle was feeling pretty good. Then, it got cold. I turned on the heating pads for the cats and on Sunday night, after rubbing lotion (with arnica) on my feet and lower legs -- I parked my heels on the ottoman on top of the heating pad.

    Woke up with crazy pain -- and on Monday morning, went climbing anyway thinking "WTF is wrong with my ankle? Why does my heel hurt so much?" Then the climbing shoes really were making it sore and finally I looked -- CRAZY bruising. Plus I was feeling so light headed after just doing a few pitches -- easy pitches, like 5.10C and 5.10D, nothing hard -- that I had to sit down on the floor. Dizzy. WTF?

    Heel was NOT bruised after initial impact 9 days earlier. Heel & ankle really hurt. AND - there was a big lump on the front of my shin, too! Went to doctor and he said no ligament tear and no break -- I probably just busted a muscle fiber from one of the calf muscles.

    On some people, esp active people and runners like me -- some of the muscle fibers go down between the Achilles and the bone -- and if I popped one of those, my body would have tried to contain the leak creating a bursa.

    You know how you get a bursa to release? You rub it and put heat on it! :rofl

    Doc told me "Good job! keep it up! more ice and heat and rubbing!"

    The sciatic nerve goes all the way down there so it was probably inflamed and rubbing boots/climbing shoes on that area just stimulated some fight/flight or sit on your damned ass dummy response. Whew. That was so weird.

    So, yesterday - I did a morning swim, ran 4.5 mi at lunch -- ankle felt pretty good. Then I went to an iso-yoga class and swimming again. I think the yoga class was the one thing too many and ankle was complaining about odd pressure (so was the right wrist, actually). Today, I only went running and swimming. :D
    #19
  20. bmwgo

    bmwgo I love moto's

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    Well done :clap
    #20